The Crying Game

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The Crying Game
Crying game poster.jpg
UK quad poster
Directed byNeil Jordan
Produced byStephen Woolley
Written byNeil Jordan
Music byAnne Dudley
CinematographyIan Wilson
Edited byKant Pan
Distributed by
Release date
  • 2 September 1992 (1992-09-02) (Venice)
  • 30 October 1992 (1992-10-30) (U.K.)
  • 19 June 1993 (1993-06-19) (Japan)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan[2]
Budget£2.3 million
Box office
  • $62.5 million (US)[3]
  • £2 million (UK)[3]

The Crying Game is a 1992 thriller film written and directed by Neil Jordan, produced by Stephen Woolley, and starring Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, Adrian Dunbar, and Forest Whitaker. The film explores themes of race, gender, nationality, and sexuality against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The film follows Fergus (Rea), a member of the IRA, who has a brief but meaningful encounter with a British soldier, Jody (Whitaker), who is being held prisoner by the group. Fergus later develops an unexpected romantic relationship with Jody's lover, Dil (Davidson), whom Fergus promised Jody he would take care of. Fergus is forced to decide between what he wants and what his nature dictates he must do.

A critical and commercial success, The Crying Game won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film as well as the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, alongside Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Rea, Best Supporting Actor for Davidson, and Best Film Editing. In 1999, the British Film Institute named it the 26th-greatest British film of all time.


At a fairground in rural Northern Ireland, a Provisional IRA volunteer named Fergus and a unit of other IRA members, led by a man named Maguire, kidnap a black British soldier named Jody after a female member of their unit, Jude, lures Jody to a secluded area with the promise of sex. They ransom Jody for the release of an imprisoned IRA member, threatening to kill him in three days if their demands are not met. While Fergus stands guard over Jody, the two bond, much to the chagrin of the other group members. Jody tells Fergus the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog.

Jody gets Fergus to promise to seek out Jody's girlfriend Dil in London should Jody be killed. The deadline set by Jody's captors passes with their demands unmet, and Fergus is ordered to take Jody into the woods to kill him. When Jody tries to escape, Fergus pursues him but cannot bring himself to shoot the fleeing man in the back. However, Jody is accidentally run over and killed by a British armoured personnel carrier as it moves in to attack the IRA safehouse. With his companions seemingly killed in the attack, Fergus flees to London, where he takes a job as a day labourer using the alias "Jimmy".

A few months later, Fergus finds Dil, working as a stylist at a hair salon. Later, they talk in a bar, where Dil is tormented by a drunken customer, and Fergus follows the pair, who return to Dil's apartment for sex. Fergus, consumed by guilt over Jody's death, pursues Dil, protecting her from her obsessive suitor, and soon begins falling in love with her. Their relationship progresses, but when the two prepare to become intimate in Dil's apartment, Dil removes her clothes and reveals that she is transgender. Fergus's initial reaction is of revulsion; he rushes to the bathroom to vomit after hitting Dil in the face, and then leaves her apartment. A few days later, Fergus leaves Dil a note in her mailbox apologizing and the two make up; despite Fergus's initial shock at Dil being transgender, he is still taken by her. Around the same time, Jude unexpectedly reappears and tells Fergus that the IRA has tried and convicted him of treason in absentia. She forces him to agree to help assassinate a British judge, and mentions that she knows about Fergus and Dil, warning him that the IRA will kill Dil if he does not cooperate.

Fergus continues to woo Dil. To shield her from possible retribution, he cuts her hair short and dresses her in Jody's old cricket uniform as a disguise. The night before the IRA mission is to be carried out, Dil gets drunk and Fergus escorts her to her apartment, where she asks him to never leave her again. Fergus stays with her, and admits his role in Jody's death. Dil, drunk, appears not to understand; however, in the morning, before Fergus wakes up, Dil restrains him by tying his arms and legs to the bed with stockings, leaving Fergus unable to complete the assassination. Holding Fergus at gunpoint with his own pistol, Dil demands that he tell her that he loves her and will never leave her; he complies, and she unties him.

Jude and Maguire shoot the judge, but Maguire is shot and killed in turn by an armed bodyguard. The vengeful Jude enters Dil's flat with a gun, seeking to kill Fergus for not taking part in the assassination. Dil shoots Jude repeatedly, telling her she is aware that Jude was complicit in Jody's death and used her sexuality to trick him. Dil finally kills Jude with a shot to the neck. She then points the gun at Fergus, but lowers it, saying that she cannot kill him because Jody will not allow her to. Fergus prevents Dil from shooting herself and tells her to go into hiding. He wipes her fingerprints off the gun, replaces them with his own, and allows himself to be arrested in her place. A few months later, Dil goes to visit Fergus in prison and asks why he took the fall for her. He responds, "As a man once said, it's in my nature," and tells her the story of the Scorpion and the Frog that he heard from Jody.



Neil Jordan first drafted the screenplay in the mid-1980s under the title The Soldier's Wife, but shelved the project after a similar film was released. The story was inspired in part by a 1931 short story by Frank O'Connor called Guests of the Nation, in which IRA soldiers develop a bond with their English captives, whom they are ultimately forced to kill.[4] The original draft had the character Dil as a cisgender woman, but Jordan had the idea to make the character a transgender woman at the premiere of his film The Miracle at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival in 1991.[4]

Jordan sought to begin production of the film in the early 1990s, but found it difficult to secure financing.[4] Potential investors were discouraged by his recent string of box office flops and by the script's controversial themes. Several funding offers from the United States fell through because the funders wanted Jordan to cast a woman to play the role of Dil, believing that it would be impossible to find an androgynous male actor who could pass as female.[5] Jordan was eventually referred to Jaye Davidson by Derek Jarman.[5] Davidson, a man, was completely new to acting, and was spotted by a casting agent while attending a premiere party for Jarman's film Edward II.[4] Rea later said, "'If Jaye hadn't been a completely convincing woman, my character would have looked stupid'".[6] The film included full-frontal male nudity; Davidson was filmed nude in the notable "surprise" scene in which Dil's gender identity was revealed.[7]

The film went into production with an inadequate patchwork of funding, leading to a stressful and unstable filming process. The producers constantly searched for small amounts of money to keep the production going, and the unreliable pay left crew members disgruntled. Costume designer Sandy Powell had an extremely small budget to work with and ended up having to lend Davidson some of her own clothes to wear in the film, as the two happened to be the same size.[4]

The film was known as The Soldier's Wife for much of its production, but Stanley Kubrick, a friend of Jordan, counselled against the title, which he said would lead audiences to expect a war film. The opening sequence was shot in Laytown, County Meath, Ireland, and the rest in London and Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire, England.[8] The bulk of the film's London scenes were shot in the East End, specifically Hoxton and Spitalfields.[9] Dil's flat is in a building facing onto Hoxton Square, with the exterior of the Metro on nearby Coronet Street. Fergus's flat and Dil's hair salon are both in Spitalfields. Chesham Street in Belgravia was the location for the assassination of the judge, with the now-defunct Lowndes Arms pub just around the corner.[9]


The film was shown at festivals in Italy, the US and Canada in September, and originally released in Ireland and the UK in October 1992, where it failed at the box office. Director Neil Jordan, in later interviews, attributed this failure to the film's heavily political undertone, particularly its sympathetic portrayal of an IRA fighter. The bombing of a pub in London is specifically mentioned as turning the English press against the film.[10]

The then-fledgling film company Miramax Films decided to promote the film in the United States where it became a sleeper hit, earning over $60 million at the box office. A memorable advertising campaign generated intense public curiosity by asking audiences not to reveal the film's "secret" regarding Dil's gender identity.[6] Jordan also believed the film's success was a result of the film's British–Irish politics being either lesser-known or completely unknown to American audiences, who flocked to the film for what Jordan called "the sexual politics".

The film earned critical acclaim and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Actor (Rea), Best Supporting Actor (Davidson) and Best Director. Writer-director Jordan finally won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film went on to success around the world, including re-releases in Britain and Ireland.

Critical reception[edit]

"Critics in Los Angeles and New York, where The Crying Game opened last week, were ecstatic about Jordan's picture, greeting it with 39 positive reviews, one negative review and six mixed notices, according to Weekly Variety's reviewers poll".[11]

The Crying Game received worldwide acclaim from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star rating and described it as one that "involves us deeply in the story, and then it reveals that the story is really about something else altogether"[12] and named it one of the best films of 1992.

Richard Corliss, in Time magazine, stated: "And the secret? Only the meanest critic would give that away, at least initially." He revealed the film's secret by means of an acrostic, forming a sentence from the first letter of each paragraph.[13]

Much has been written about The Crying Game's discussion of race, nationality and sexuality. Theorist and author Judith Halberstam argued that Dil's transvestism and the viewer's placement in Fergus's point of view reinforces societal norms rather than challenging them.[14] The film has a 94% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 66 reviews with the consensus: "The Crying Game is famous for its shocking twist, but this thoughtful, haunting mystery grips the viewer from start to finish."[15]

The Crying Game was placed on over 50 critics' ten-best lists in 1992, based on a poll of 106 film critics.[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

Category Nominee(s) Result
Best Picture Stephen Woolley Nominated
Best Director Neil Jordan Nominated
Best Actor Stephen Rea Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jaye Davidson Nominated
Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Neil Jordan Won
Best Film Editing Kant Pan Nominated

BAFTA Awards[edit]

Category Nominee(s) Result
Best Film Stephen Woolley and Neil Jordan Nominated
Best British Film Won
Best Direction Neil Jordan Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role Stephen Rea Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jaye Davidson Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Miranda Richardson Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Neil Jordan Nominated

Golden Globe Awards[edit]

Category Nominee(s) Result
Best Motion Picture – Drama The Crying Game Nominated

Critics awards[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Argentine Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Film Neil Jordan Nominated
Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Director Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jaye Davidson Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Miranda Richardson Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Neil Jordan Nominated
Best Film Editing Kant Pan Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Screenplay Neil Jordan Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Stephen Woolley Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film The Crying Game Won
Best Director Neil Jordan Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Miranda Richardson Nominated
Best Screenplay Neil Jordan Nominated
Most Promising Actor Jaye Davidson Nominated
Most Promising Actress Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Film The Crying Game Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Awards British Director of the Year Neil Jordan Won
British Screenwriter of the Year Won
British Producer of the Year Stephen Woolley Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film Neil Jordan Won
Best Supporting Actress Miranda Richardson Nominated
Best Screenplay Neil Jordan Nominated
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films The Crying Game Won
Most Auspicious Debut Jaye Davidson Won
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Film The Crying Game Nominated
Best Director Neil Jordan Nominated
Best Actor Stephen Rea Won
Best Supporting Actor Jaye Davidson Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Miranda Richardson Nominated
Best Screenplay Neil Jordan Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actress Miranda Richardson (also for Enchanted April and Damage) Won
Best Screenplay Neil Jordan Won
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture The Crying Game Nominated

Guild awards[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Neil Jordan Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures Stephen Woolley Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screenplay Neil Jordan Won
Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards Film – Screenplay Won

Other awards[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Amanda Awards Best Foreign Feature Film Neil Jordan Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Anne Dudley Won
Australian Film Institute Awards Best Foreign Film Stephen Woolley Won
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Film Neil Jordan Nominated
Best Foreign Actor Stephen Rea Nominated
Edgar Allan Poe Awards Best Motion Picture Neil Jordan Nominated
European Film Awards European Achievement of the Year Nik Powell and Stephen Woolley Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama The Crying Game Nominated
Goya Awards Best European Film Neil Jordan Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best International Film Won
MTV Video Music Awards Best Video from a Film Boy George – "The Crying Game" Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Forest Whitaker Nominated
Nastro d'Argento Best Foreign Director Neil Jordan Nominated
Satellite Awards Outstanding Overall DVD The Crying Game: Collector's Edition Nominated
20/20 Awards Best Picture The Crying Game Nominated
Best Director Neil Jordan Won
Best Actor Stephen Rea Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jaye Davidson Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Neil Jordan Nominated


The soundtrack to the film, The Crying Game: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, released on 23 February 1993, was produced by Anne Dudley and Pet Shop Boys. Boy George scored his first hit since 1987 with his recording of the title song – a song that had been a hit in the 1960s for British singer Dave Berry. The closing rendition of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" was performed by American singer Lyle Lovett.

  1. "The Crying Game" – Boy George
  2. "When a Man Loves a Woman" – Percy Sledge
  3. "Live for Today" (Orchestral) – Cicero and Sylvia Mason-James
  4. "Let the Music Play" – Carroll Thompson
  5. "White Cliffs of Dover" – The Blue Jays
  6. "Live for Today" (Gospel) – David Cicero
  7. "The Crying Game" – Dave Berry
  8. "Stand by Your Man" – Lyle Lovett
  9. "The Soldier's Wife"*
  10. "It's in my Nature"*
  11. "March to the Execution"*
  12. "I'm Thinking of You"*
  13. "Dies Irae"*
  14. "The Transformation"*
  15. "The Assassination"*
  16. "The Soldier's Tale"*

*Orchestral tracks composed by Anne Dudley and performed by the Pro Arte Orchestra of London

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Crying Game (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 28 August 1992. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  2. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b Rufus Olins (24 September 1995). "Mr Fixit of the British Screen". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e British Film Institute (21 February 2017). In conversation with The Crying Game cast. YouTube. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Jack Watkins (21 February 2017). "How we made The Crying Game". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b Giles, Jeff; Giles, Jeff (1 April 1993). "Jaye Davidson: Oscar's Big Surprise". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  7. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (5 December 2014). "Stephen Rea on The Crying Game's Surprise Penis". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  8. ^ Presenter: Francine Stock (17 September 2010). "The Film Programme". The Film Programme. London. BBC. BBC Radio 4.
  9. ^ a b Oliver Lunn (26 January 2018). "How London has changed since the Crying Game". British Film Institute. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  10. ^ Interview "English Love" in special features of The Crying Game Collector's Edition DVD, 2005
  11. ^ "Director implores that 'Crying Game' secrets be kept" (1 December 1992), The Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger, Review of The Crying Game, Chicago Sun-Times, 18 December 1992.
  13. ^ Corliss, Richard. "Queuing For The Crying Game", Time, 25 January 1993.
  14. ^ Halberstam, Judith (2005), In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives, New York: New York University Press, p. 81. ISBN 978-0-8147-3585-5.
  15. ^ The Crying Game at Rotten Tomatoes
  16. ^

External links[edit]